I guess maybe I’ve been a little spoiled. The Vikings haven’t played a meaningless week 17 game since 2016.
(They started out 5-0 that year…and not only missed the playoffs, but somehow managed to be eliminated from contention with a week left to go in the regular season.)
But that’s exactly what they’ll be looking at this week against the Lions. One of the most meaningless NFL games on this weeks docket.
At the start of every NFL year the first thing I hope is for the Minnesota Vikings to be relevant.
I want the team to be competitive, I want them to make the playoffs, and I want to get the feeling they have a chance to beat the upper tier teams in the league when I’m watching them.
Everything on top of that is a bonus.
2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019 they checked all those boxes. All through the 1990s, during my childhood and teenage years, they were competitive as well.
A lot of other fan bases aren’t as fortunate.
Actually, if you add it all up, since I was 8 years old, the Vikings have only played a total of 9 seasons, including this one, where their last game hasn’t had potential stakes attached to it. And one of those was 2014, when it was clear they were gonna take that year to rebuild under Teddy Bridgewater as a rookie.
9 out of 30. I guess that’s not so bad.
It still hurts though.
I remember how painful it was in 2011 and 2013 (thank you Christian Ponder) dragging myself to the bar every week to watch certain defeat. It was no fun. And the experience felt obligatory.
I need to watch a team that has a chance to win, or is clearly building the right way.
2014 was a hopeless year, but it was very clear the team was headed in the right direction for 2015.
I don’t know what this 2020 team is.
I’ve already given my thoughts about those fans who think this was a building year for Minnesota and their defense will come back that much stronger next year. (It’s bullshit and here’s why.)
I do think the foundation for their offense is set…They are solidified at all the skill positions, (Cook, Thielen, Jefferson) found out they have two good tight ends ready to take the next step, (Smith and Conklin) and added a solid future piece to the offensive line (Cleveland) who should be able to start and produce right away next year, either at tackle or guard. 3/5ths of the offensive line is solid for next season.
But can any fan or football analyst truly announce the foundation is set on offense if Kirk Cousin is their quarterback? That’s the $64000 dollar question.
The problem is, even if the answer to that question is yes, it won’t make much difference if the defense looks anything like it did this year.
I’ve talked enough about that though.
For now I’m just bummed I’ll be sitting there watching this game on Sunday knowing if they win it won’t mean a damn thing.
While looking forward to cash-strapped offseason, with my optimism already in limbo for next year.